Sunday, October 30, 2011

Florida Keys {Day 3: The $3,500 Deer and the Best Pizza in the Known Universe}

On Tuesday, our first full day in the Keys, it was cloudy and crazy windy all day, but it didn't rain a drop until late in the afternoon. So we were able to get out and go some places that morning.

Some of the water had soaked in around the hotel.

This was my mother's most favorite part of our whole vacation. *note sarcasm here*

The Seven Mile Bridge.

Marmee doesn't like bridges or water.

{Also, please excuse the fact that some of these pictures might be blurry, include windshield wipers, have a glare, etc. A lot of them were taken through the windows while we were driving.}

The Seven Mile Bridge connects part of Marathon to the Lower Keys. The above picture shows us driving on the new bridge, which was constructed in the late 70s/early 80s. To the right, and in the below picture, you can see the original bridge.

This is part of the awesome history in the Keys. Henry Flagler, a billionaire oil and railroad tycoon, was responsible for building the first railroad through the Keys (amongst a ton of other things). I'll talk more about this later. But this original bridge (below) was built between 1909 and 1912. It was the railroad- can you imagine? Riding a train on this narrow bridge over the water? And it's still standing. In the 1930s, it was converted to a two-lane highway, which is almost even scarier than the idea of it being a railroad, once you see how narrow it is.

This is Pigeon Key, which I'll talk about in the post of our last day in the Keys. Because we went there. :) And it was ridiculously awesome.

So on Tuesday morning we got up and went riding through Marathon, across the Seven Mile Bridge, and into Big Pine Key and No Name Key. These islands were still really flooded- a lot of the roads were covered in water.

There is a type of deer found only in the Florida Keys. They're called Key deer (bet you never would have guessed that one! :). They're like the deer that are so plentiful here in Virginia, except they're a lot smaller. Key deer are like miniature versions of our deer.

Here are a couple of Key deer hanging out in someone's backyard. In the only part of the yard that wasn't flooded.

Key deer are endangered. So the people down there take their deer very seriously. When you get to the National Key Deer Refuge, you start seeing a lot of signs like these.

If you hit and kill a Key deer, there's a $3,500 fine {according to our trolley guide in Key West}. Isn't that crazy?? We drove very slowly.

There are also signs saying: SPEED KILLS KEY DEER. Yes, in capital letters like that. There's even a sign (which I didn't get a picture of) telling how many deer have been killed that year by cars. I think in 2010, it was 108. In 2011, it was 105 so far {that didn't sound like an awful lot to me, but it is, because they estimate there are only between 300 and 700 Key deer in existence}. Apparently they're trying to beat last year's record.

 I think the people who live on this street are doing their part in beating that record.

Another difference between these deer and our deer is that Key deer aren't scared of humans. They walk around like they own the place. They are not spastic, running and jumping out from the edge of the road. They stroll along very casually.

This cute deer appears to be eating a banana. But he's not. It's a yellow leaf, okay?

{Off topic, but my family had a very serious discussion on the drive down the interstate about banana peels. My mom had eaten a banana and wanted to throw the peeling out in the woods on the side of the road. It is biodegradable, after all. But we convinced her that if she through out that peeling, someone, somehow, would slip up and fall on it. Mostly likely an elderly person. She waited and found a trash can at our next stop.}

Last time we were in the Keys, we stumbled upon this little pizza place while driving around. We wanted to eat there again this time, and we remembered generally where it was. We were riding along looking for it, and my dad was saying, "Now, are we going to be able to find this place again?" About that time, there it was. No Name Pub.

This is a quirky pub and pizza place that's sitting amongst houses and little backroads. It's really impossible to give someone directions for how to get there. You just have to find it.

It's a dark little place lit by the few windows and neon lights, where the tables and chairs are wood and they give you Styrofoam plates to eat your pizza off of. They advertise as having the best pizza in the known universe. It is really good.

Oh, and the walls and ceiling are covered in tens of thousands of dollar bills marked with drawings, doodles, people's names, and hometowns.

My brother contributed the dollar to represent our family, and we all signed it.

He is constantly draping his arm around me for pictures: he does this because it drives me crazy. So this is his I-know-this-makes-her-mad smirk, and my if-he-doesn't-move-his-arm-I'm-going-to-slug-him smirk.

Then we stopped at the Blue Hole. It's an old rock quarry that is now filled with fresh water- it's the only fresh water "lake" in the Keys {there is virtually no fresh water in the Keys. All of the fresh water has to be sent in from the mainland}.

The trees are brown and charred because a controlled burn got out of control. It actually looked really pretty though- like fall, sort of.

The Blue Hole has all sorts of animals living nearby, including alligators. Unfortunately, all we saw were birds, fish, and turtles.

The next two vacation posts are my favorite days and full of pictures.

Coming up: Days 4 and 5, or The Day It Stormed and Finally, Sun! (Key West).

Previous posts: Day 1, and Day 2.

Until next time,

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